Are you exhausted? Are you overwhelmed? And are you also struggling to eat healthy and exercise regularly?
You may find that it feels impossible to have will power when you are tired and stressed to the max. It requires a lot of energy to make good choices, so start by going back and reading my post on 5 ways to manage your energy.
Stress is the enemy of will power. It will suck the life right out of you, along with any chance of sticking to your diet.
Think of will power as a bank account. There is only so much in there. In other words, you have a finite amount that you have to work with each day. There are things you do to either make deposits or withdrawal from your account.
You want to make sure that you always have a reserve of willpower, so you can make on the fly decisions and manage your reactions. When your willpower is too low, you will find yourself making poor decisions and exploding on people.
I don’t want that to happen to you, so I’ve come up with a list of 5 ways you can boost your will power.
- Get clear on what you want
Indecision kills your willpower, because you are constantly worrying about what to do next. Stress builds when you aren’t sure about your life. What is important to you? What do you value? When you get clear on your priorities, decision-making becomes a lot easier. Make a list of your top 5 priorities and keep them posted somewhere that you can see them. I’ll share with you my priorities in order, to give you an idea. Keep in mind this is MY list. You are unique, and so are your priorities.
- 1- God; 2- My physical, emotional, and emotional self; 3- My spouse and future children; 4- Family; 5- Giving back and helping others
Getting clear on what you what empowers you to make good decisions for yourself. It gives you a vision and a purpose.
- Plan your day (and your meals)
One of the biggest keys to preserving willpower is reducing the number of decisions you make each day. One of the best ways to do that is by planning ahead. Sit down each evening and create a to-do list for the next day and plan out your meals. It’s amazing what a little planning exercise can do for your stress level the following day. You don’t have to worry about what you are going to eat for lunch from the time you wake up. You know what your next important task is… especially if you know what your priorities are!
Every weekend, I sit down and make a list of all the meals I plan to cook that week, and then turn it into a grocery list. Before I go to bed, I make a list of all the meals I plan to eat the next day.
I use a time block board, and plan out my entire week in advance. I block off the important meetings and my workouts first, and then fill in the rest with the important to do items. I don’t have to be constantly reminding myself of what I have to do… I can just glance over at my time board and I know what’s next. Every weekend, I make a list of meals I will prepare that week. Again, no tough decision making mid-week, when I’m exhausted and overwhelmed.
- Create routines and habits
We are hardwired to take the path of least resistance, which is why we always fall back onto our habits when we aren’t careful. But what if your habits served you? If you created a habit out of exercising daily, it wouldn’t require so much will power and effort to make it happen. Start small. Working out for 10 minutes a day is better than working out for one hour one day of the week. It builds the habit and routine of exercising.
When I first started time blocking my week, it felt arduous and painful. I didn’t do it every week, and I felt scattered and lost on the weeks I didn’t. It took me a while, but today, it is a weekly routine I just automatically do when the weekend comes. Whatever it is, prepping your food, exercising, writing your goals, or planning your meals… you can create a habit out of it. What it takes is consistency and persistence, but it can be done.
- Do the hardest thing first
The best time to tackle the hard stuff is when your willpower tank is full. Usually that is first thing in the morning or after a great workout. In Brian Tracy’s book, Eat that Frog, he explains that if the first thing you do in the morning is eat a frog, the rest of your day is down hill! Your frog, of course, is that scary, daunting, difficult task.
Its amazing the feeling of relief and lightness you feel after you complete that task. It energizes you and motivates you to do something else. It gives you confidence that you can take with you for the rest of your day. So what is your frog? Is it a workout? A few sales calls? The more you procrastinate on something that is really important, the worse you will feel, the more depleted your willpower will become, and the less likely you will be to do it.
- Become self aware
We are really good at hiding from ourselves. We go through life with blinders on, not being honest about what we are actually doing. How can you change your life for the better, if you don’t know what you are doing now? Do you know exactly how much time you spend surfing the internet? How much food you eat in one day? How much money you spend in a month? Research shows that when you track your time, your food, or your spending, you are more likely to make good decisions.
I believe it does so much more than that. It builds self-efficacy. You start to believe that you are capable of change with every good decision. When you build confidence in yourself, you build momentum and motivation. As a result, you boost willpower and reduce stress in your life. It all starts with a little self-awareness. Use tools like myfitnesspal to track your food, and mint to track your finances. You can keep track of how you spend your time by creating a simple log throughout the day.